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High-profile companies nabbed by new laws

High-profile companies nabbed by new laws

SingTel Optus is one of a string of companies to be punished under new consumer laws introduced just over 12 months ago.The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has raked in…

SingTel Optus is one of a string of companies to be punished under new consumer laws introduced just over 12 months ago.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has raked in over $3.6 million in penalties since it was granted additional powers under a suite of new consumer laws since April last year.

The most significant of these new laws was the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) which came into effect on 1 January 2011 and replaced the old Trade Practices Act.

"Until a year ago the ACCC's ability to penalise a great deal of dishonest conduct amounted to not much more than a slap on the wrist," said ACCC chairman Graham Samuel yesterday. "Now the punishments can better match the crime and we can respond in a more timely way."

The ACCC has issued more then 50 infringement notices since April last year. SingTel Optus Pty Ltd has received 27 breach notices totaling $178,200 for what the ACCC considered was false and misleading conduct in the promotion of mobile phone plans.

The highest penalty was reserved for the Dutch-based company Yellow Marketing BV and the UK company Yellow Publishing Limited, which have been fined a total of $2.7 million by the Federal Court for sending thousands of misleading faxes and invoices to businesses in an attempt to obtain subscriptions to their online business directories.

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